US denies Ukrainian official's claim about plans to attack Russian fleet

The Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs adviser said in a tweet on Friday that the US "is preparing a plan to destroy the Black Sea Fleet."

Russian missile cruiser Moskva is moored in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Ukraine, May 10, 2013. (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILE PHOTO)
Russian missile cruiser Moskva is moored in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Ukraine, May 10, 2013.
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILE PHOTO)

The Pentagon has denied a Ukrainian official's claim that the United States is planning to attack Russia's naval fleet in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko said in a tweet on Friday, which has since been deleted, that the US "is preparing a plan to destroy the Black Sea Fleet," Newsweek reported.

"The effective work of the Ukrainians on warships convinced [the USA] to prepare a plan to unblock the ports," the tweet said. "Deliveries of powerful anti-ship weapons (Harpoon and Naval Strike Missile with a range of 250-300 km) are being discussed." 

Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet logistics support ship Vsevolod Bobrov sails in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, January 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK)Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet logistics support ship Vsevolod Bobrov sails in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, January 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK)

The Newsweek report added that the Biden Administration is working on a plan to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, according to Reuters, and that US officials and congressional sources said that such missiles could either be shipped to the besieged country directly or transferred via an allied country in Europe.

However, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby dismissed Geraschenko's claim outright regarding US plans to attack Russian naval forces, saying, "I can tell you definitively that that's not true. Just looking here, [there are] no changes that we observed in the maritime posture in the Black Sea. 

"The Russians still obviously have vessels there, although they are not as close to the coast as they were a few weeks ago. Most of them [are] surface vessels but [there are some] submarines as well," he said.

"They continue to be able to, from a maritime perspective, blockade major Ukrainian ports like Odesa, so there's still nothing getting in economically. But I don't have any other updates for you in the maritime domain."

When asked if the US intends to send anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, Kirby did not give a clear answer, saying, "we are talking to the Ukrainians every day, as you know – in fact, today's another one of those days when the secretary is going to talk to Minister Reznikoff about their needs and our capabilities.

"When we have decisions, we come right out here and we issue a press release and we tell you about that – so, I'm not going to get ahead of decisions that haven't been made," Kirby said. 

"We're doing the best we can to meet their capabilities in as near real-time as we can. And we keep trying to make those capabilities match what's going on on the ground. And what's going on on the ground right now is very artillery-heavy, long-range fire-heavy fighting in the Donbas region."